Texas might be the second largest state in the United States, but the Lone Star State is also home to many endangered species. Here are five you need to know about.
"Everything is bigger in Texas" -- This common saying might come to mind when thinking about the great Lone Star State. It's true, everything IS bigger in Texas; After all, Texas is the second largest state in the United States. From their most-populated city, Houston, to their awesome state capital, Austin (OK, we might be a little biased...), the state of Texas is one big land of, well, everything!
But other than cowboys, the world's best barbecue, and all the birds (Fun fact: Texas has more species of birds than any other states in North America!), the Lone Star State also has many federally listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These state-listed federal endangered species' continued existence is critically threatened. Here are just five from the endangered species list that calls the state of Texas home.
1. Houston Toad
Just like their namesake would indicate, Houston toads were originally discovered in Houston, Texas. Listed as an endangered species in 1970, Houston Toads are little Texans that can be found in wetlands of south-central Texas nowadays. They are critically endangered due to habitat loss and alteration, i.e. urbanization caused habitat destruction; with an estimated number of only 3000 to 4000 left in the wild.
One of six remaining wild cats in the United States, the cute ocelot (aka little leopard) is an endangered species because of habitat destruction, predation, and fur trapping. Ocelots can be found in South Texas and the lower Rio Grande valley. Presently, researchers estimate that there are no more than 80 to 120 ocelots left in Texas.
3. Whooping Crane
The Whooping Crane is one of the most endangered birds in North America, they are also the tallest. This bird can be found in Central Texas, among other areas, and is threatened by a combination of over-hunting and critical habitat loss. Honorary mention: the Golden-Cheeked Warbler is also an endangered bird that can be found in Central Texas.
4. San Marcos Salamander
Listed as a threatened species, the San Marcos Salamander is only found in the San Marcos River in Hays County in Texas. The species habitat is mainly threatened by the reduced water flow from the springs; This also affects plant species native to the area.
5. Attwater's Prairie Chicken
The Attwater prairie chicken is an endangered subspecies of the Greater Prairie Chicken. They are native to coastal Texas, in the Texas prairie's ecosystem, as well as Louisiana. These adorable prairie chickens have experienced a decline in numbers due to habitat loss, i.e. habitat destruction. Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to learn more about the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge.
Of course, the above are just five of the countless endangered species in Texas, many of which will become rare species if we don't perform any conservation efforts. We encourage you to check out recovery efforts and conservation plans developed by federal agencies such as USFWS (or FWS if you prefer!) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). We of course also need the help of private landowners in Texas and state laws.
Have you seen any of these listed endangered species in Texas? Let us know in the Facebook comments!